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Israeli Choppers Pound S. Lebanon

May 27, 1998

TYRE, Lebanon (AP) _ Israeli helicopters fired rockets at suspected guerrilla positions in southern Lebanon Wednesday in a fourth straight day of air raids, Lebanese security officials said.

A Lebanese shepherd was killed and another was slightly wounded Wednesday by explosive charges planted in fields near the town of Nabatiyeh, the sources said on customary condition of anonymity.

They said authorities were trying to determine who planted the explosives.

Earlier, two Israeli helicopter gunships fired two missiles near the Shiite Muslim village of Barachit on the edge of an Israeli-occupied border strip in south Lebanon, the security officials said.

There was no immediate word on casualties from the air strike, the fourth since Sunday.

Guerrillas of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group hiding in valleys near the occupied zone often attack an outpost near Barachit manned jointly by Israeli soldiers and their allied Lebanese militiamen.

Two members of the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army militia were killed Tuesday and five others wounded in violence in southern Lebanon.

As violence escalated, a multinational committee monitoring a U.S.-brokered cease-fire in south Lebanon urged Israel and Lebanese guerrillas to avoid targeting civilians.

The cease-fire agreement, reached after an Israeli bombing blitz of southern Lebanon in April 1996, prohibits targeting civilians or firing from civilian-populated areas.

The 2,500-strong South Lebanon Army militia patrols the Israeli-occupied zone along with about 1,500 Israeli soldiers. Israel maintains the occupation is necessary to protect its northern villages.

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